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KOLKATA: A week after the state allowed cinemas to operate with 50% seating capacity, there has been mixed response among cine-goers. While some cinemas have seen a drastic dip in sales, others have recorded steady numbers. The latter, in some theaters, have prompted many to wonder if the footfall is comprised of Covid survivors keen to end their home isolation with a trip to the theater.
Debjiban Basu of Basusree, which has a seating capacity of 1,020, told TOI the cinema had recorded a sale of 650 tickets of the matinee show of ‘Tonic‘on January 2. “This is huge for any single-screen theater collection in Kolkata. Back then, the government was allowing 70% occupancy, ”he said.
However, things changed after the surge in cases. “Now, we are seeing approximately 60 tickets being sold per show. With such low numbers, we have brought down the shows from four to two. We are contemplating shutting down on a temporary basis, ”Basu said.
Menoka’s owner Pranab Roy said, “The sales of ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’, ‘Tonic’ and ‘Pushpa‘was initially very good. Once the Covid numbers surged, there was a sense of panic and sales have dropped to 20% this week. ”
Priya’s owner Arijit Dutta told TOI the footfall is “reasonable”. “We have sold more than 50% of the offered seating capacity for ‘Tonic’,” Dutta said.
Navin Choukhani, the owner of Navina, said, “Looking at the past, I initially had apprehension about the footfall. Though sales have dipped, it was not to the extent I had feared, ”Choukhani said. Currently, Navina can sell 410 tickets. The evening show of ‘Tonic’ on Saturday sold 240 tickets. On Sunday, it sold 390 tickets. “This sale can be partly explained if we take into account that a number of those frequenting theaters have recovered after the infection and are keen on watching movies,” he said.
Suranjan Paul, owner of the Minar-Bijoli-Chhabighar chain, said, “The few who have recovered now want to let their hair down. Cinema, for them, is a safe space, ” Paul said.
Joydeep Mukherjee, who has the lease for Star, has cut down on the number of shows to three from five. “Yet, with the offered 50% occupancy, the footfall is fair enough,” he said.

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